The famous tuk-tuk
These and moto-boys (scooter drivers) are the primary modes of transportation. For about two dollars, you can go anywhere in the city. You'll probably get a city tour as well because no one every seems to know where they are going.
I'm probably a little past due for a post but wanted to get elections behind me. No, not Romney v. Obama but communal elections that were held yesterday across the country. It was a most interesting time to be here. The Prime Minister, Hun Sen, declared a four day holiday from Friday until today. People have to return to their home province in order to vote. Phnom Penh largely cleared out which made for a really nice quite weekend. There was a huge party held around Independence Monument on Friday by the Cambodian People's Party. I didn't have my camera but it looked more like a victory celebration in advance of the election which would have been completely appropriate given the forgone conclusion that the CPP would win the election. Alcohol sales were banned the day before and day of the election. Wouldn’t it be a better strategy to provide free alcohol to take people's minds off the current situations of poverty and corruption? It's amazing that this country is surrounded by economic success stories. Thailand and Vietnam are booming economies with growing middle classes. In the days of the Angkor Empire (around 1100 a.d.) their irrigation systems produced three or
four crops of rice per year. Thailand and Vietnam is able to do that today. Here today, providing a good rainy season, they are able to produce one crop per year! If there is extreme flooding or drought then famine is sure to set in. That's the country-side and villages. Phnom Penh is a very different story. Chinese capital and foreign aid is funding huge luxury high rises and while there is plenty of poverty, people seem to fair decently. Someone told me Cambodia has more NGO’s operating than any other country in the world. About 85% of the country is rural and it's easy to become oblivious to the conditions out in the communes. So you may wonder how the CPP manages to capture 1591 out of 1633 seats. Basically, the other parties have no way of getting their message out and differentiating themselves. I made the mistake of calling the other parties "opposition" parties. I was corrected. They are simply called "other" parties. If you can't even differentiate yourself in name then there is no reason to vote for a party other than the CPP.
To put this in perspective, I can imagine that after losing 3.3
What? The King is a Queen?
King Sihamoni is 56 years old, trained in ballet and lived in Paris for 20 years. His sexual orientation is widely known but not discussed. He's kind of a hottie, don't you think?
million people to war and genocide people are largely content to just be at peace and not killing one another. Stability may well be more important than civil liberties and voting rights. I certainly wouldn't fault anyone for making the trade-off.
So, in a quieter Phnom Penh I went to the market on Saturday. I had hoped to bring my camera but I left my memory card in my computer. I've been promising pictures and I'll post a few but promise to get some market pics up. I decided it was time to force myself to buy meat at the market. I eat far less meat here and will probably continue to do so. Fish is widely available in the market and is very fresh, often still flipping around. One the first decisions I had to make is river fish or ocean fish. Hmmm. I've seen the huge sewage culverts emptying into the Mekong river so I opted for the more expensive ocean fish. I don't know for sure, but I think I bought mackerel and some really nice prawns. When I cooked it I thought it was pretty tasty but with enough garlic and onion you can make
Lights and Water at Night
This is located right behind the Cambodia/Vietnam Friendship Monument in Wat Bottom Park. I can walk there in less than 10 minutes from my house.
shoe leather taste good. I'll make the prawns tonight. Sometimes I wonder if it's hardly worth it to cook. You can eat at a local Khmer restaurant for about 3 or 4 dollars. At least at home I can better control the way the food is handled and cooked.
Now, back to the "river fish". I think it is mostly what we call the snakehead fish (Channa). They've become an invasive species in American freshwater lakes. They are vicious fish that eat ever other kind of fish including frogs and even rats and destroy the natural ecosystem of freshwater lakes and rivers. They can breathe air so simply taking them out of the water doesn't kill them. They survive on land up to four days so it makes them ideal for transporting them to market without ice or refrigeration. They’ve been known to “walk” up to ¼ mile over land to migrate to another lake. It would make sense that you wouldn’t see much else in terms of river fish varieties. The snakehead has already eaten them. This fish is actually pretty darn tasty! They grow up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 13 lbs. I think
I'm not sure if this means something more but it's a pretty cool public art sculpture of the dragon in Wat Bottom Park.
in the U.S. we regard it as a trash fish but here they eat them with pleasure. If I can figure out how to cook it I may try picking up some snakehead fish on my next trip to market. When in Rome, right?
On my next blog I'll deal more with the development of the program at the university. It's coming along and we are preparing to go to the Ministry of Education for approval. The government must approve all degree programs offered at a university. Did someone say academic freedom? Like I said, a new lesson and awareness every day.
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